Linares 2010 (10)
Mark Crowther - Thursday 25th February 2010
The Linares tournament took place in Spain 12th-25th February 2010. Veselin Topalov emerged as the winner for the first time. He beat Boris Gelfand in the final round and edged out Alexander Grischuk by half a point.
Round 10 Results
Vallejo 1/2 Grischuk
Topalov 1-0 Gelfand
Aronian 1-0 Gashimov
Final Standings: Topalov 6.5, Grischuk 6, Aronian 5.5, Gelfand 4, Gashimov 4, Vallejo 4
Final Round 10
Alexander Grischuk felt that he was lost for much of his game against Francisco Vallejo Pons and that the best position he had was the last one. The Sicilian Najdorf didn't seem quite as bad as this but white definitely had the intitiative and some extra minutes at the end when he decided to repeat the position. This draw left Grischuk with a superior tie-break (better results against the leading players) but waiting for the result of Topalov's game.
Veselin Topalov rather bravely took on Boris Gelfand's super-solid Petroff Defence. Topalov managed to present Gelfand with some new problems but it seemed for a while that black was doing fine. However Gelfand then chose to give up the exchange in the hope that Topalov couldn't break through. Although the position was rather difficult to break down it seems like Topalov should be much better and he chose to exploit this by returning the exchange in a position where he had the advantages of 4 vs 3 pawns on the queenside and black's king was cut off. With best play this probably would have been drawn but getting there was fiendishly complicated. Gelfand got a long way towards securing the draw but then started to go wrong. 48....a2 49. Rd7+ Ke6 was probably drawn a little easier than his 48...Ke8 which took 15 minutes of thought. His 49...a2 seems to be losing (49... Ke7 50. Rh7+ Ke6 51. c4 Ke5 52. Rd7 Rc3 53. Rd5+ Ke4 seems to be the correct drawing idea). Topalov then brought home the full point and secured his first Linares win (he lost out on tie-break to Kasparov in 2005).
Levon Aronian said that after 9 draws in a row (a record for him) he was definitely going to look for a win today and this he mananged. He played a very complicated Modern Benoni against Vugar Gashimov. There were still plenty of pieces on the board at first time control on move 40 and although Aronian had something of an advantage Gashimov's position probably shouldn't have collapsed as fast as it did.
The game of the day was the battle between the leader Veselin Topalov and Alexander Grischuk who could catch him with a win playing white. Topalov played the solid Queen's Indian, no Benoni! and had to face a novelty on move 13 which left White with some central control (14...Bxc4 15.Ne4 wins and 15...Bxc4 is an amusing triple attack) After Topalov gave up bishop for knight White appeared to be slightly better, an impression confirmed by Topalov's decision to give up two minor pieces for rook and pawn. Black never equalised as Grischuk's position was very stable and his pieces active. Topalov took the most aggressive course, sacrificing pawns and putting Grischuk on the defensive but the assessment of the position did not change although perhaps 35...Rxe3 was a better try. In what looked like time trouble they repeated their way over the first time control. After the first time control it was clear that Topalov was in bad trouble. Topalov tried to take refuge in a queen vs rook, knight and bishop ending but this proved to be comparatively easy to convert for Grischuk who now joins Topalov in the lead with just one round to go.
Vugar Gashimov against Francisco Vallejo was an unusual Caro-Kann Advanced Variatio that burst into life tactically for a few moves before mass exchanges led to a completely drawn bishops of opposite colours ending.
Boris Gelfand against Levon Aronian was a quiet Slav Defence which reached a Queen's Gambit Exchange type position where White's pawn on a4, which arrived on move 5, prevented him from organising a minority attack and with his options reduced Black equalised and gradually the pieces came off. They reached a heavy piece ending on move 32 where there was no realistic possibility of a decisive result.
Round 9 (February 22, 2010)
Grischuk 1-0 Topalov
Gashimov 1/2 Vallejo
Gelfand 1/2 Aronian
Levon Aronian chose the Semi-Slav Moscow Variation as black against Veselin Topalov. 15.h3 looks like an attempt to avoid the sterile positions that can arise after 15.Qe2-Bg4 eg Bacrot - Aronian 2009 24.h4! gave Black some problems as playing h5 means f5 will allow Ne4-g5-e6 and if White is allowed to play h5 and hxg6 the white squares will be very weak hence Aronian boldly pushed f5. Topalov started to find the right solution but missed a three move combination (34.Rxe4! Qxe4 35.Qc3+ Kg8 36.Qc7 winning) which would have ended the game. At the time control the rook and pawn ending was drawn despite Topalov's extra pawn and they agreed a draw on move 45.
Francisco Vallejo Pons tried the new 13.g3 against Boris Gelfand's Petroff Defence. He didn't achieve very much at all and after that they just traded their way to a draw on move 35.
The final game to finish saw Alexander Grischuk and Vugar Gashimov spend most of their time on the first 21 or so moves of a Modern Benoni by which time Grischuk had a decisive advantage. Note 17...b5 allows 18.Nxb5! with similar themes to the game. If there is a weakness in the Modern Benoni it is of course d6 and Grischuk showed it today. No Benoni player would enjoy 18...a6 19.a5 but 18...b6 19.Nb5! was worse after which it is hard to give good advice. Black's white squared bishop was marooned in all the tactics and even after the computer's 19...Bh3!? letting d6 go, 20.Bf3 first might be even better. 21...Bxd6 22.e4! is the point and 21...b5?! was a decent attempt to cause confusion as they both were in severe time trouble which led to them having about 5 minutes left for the last 10 moves. By that stage it was all about Grischuk exploiting his decisive advantage which he did pretty well. Gashimov resigned after Grischuk made time control.
Round 8 (February 21, 2010)
Topalov, Veselin 1/2 Aronian, Levon
Grischuk, Alexander 1-0 Gashimov, Vugar
Vallejo Pons, Francisco 1/2 Gelfand, Boris
Veselin Topalov consolidated his lead after drawing a Ruy Lopez Berlin Defence against Vugar Gashimov. After Topalov's unusual 9...h5 Gashimov avoided the sharp 10.Qxg7 and found a new move 10.Qg3 which involved a pawn sacrifice. Intricate play followed and it became clear that White's bishop pair, superior structure and beter development were more than adequate compensation. Gashimov regained the pawn and with bishop pair and queenside pawn majority his position looked promising but with active play gaining space, (f7-f5 and Kg8-f7-e6) and accurate defence such as 30...Nb8! idea 31.Rxe5 Nd7 xb6 followed by Rc6 xb6, Topalov held without much difficulty and after the exchange of one White bishop the position was level. The draw was agreed on move 42.
Boris Gelfand was content to play for just a tiny edge with the English Opening against Alexander Grischuk but went wrong - did he miss 25.Nxa6 Qb7 26.b5 cxb5 check? Despite a slightly compromised structure Gelfand was still trying to attack Black's queenside pawns and after a couple of innacurate moves from Grischuk he managed to exert huge pressure in what appeared a roughly level double rook and pawn endgame. 39.Kg4! would have left Black on the brink of defeat and even afterwards Black had to defend well. 40.Kh4! continued to press, note 40.Racx6 Rxc6 41.Rxc6 is a theoretical draw with a black pawn on h5. 46...Rd7 was probably forced and 47.Rxf6+ Kh7 48.Rxc6 Rg2 gives just enough play. 49.f5!? threat Rg8 is met by Rd6+
Levon Aronian had a real struggle against Francisco Vallejo Pons. In attempting to gain the advantage he weakened his king-side pawn structure which might have been fine had he found 21.d5 and later the more difficult 26.Bc4 which at first looks bad. He was left with two rooks for a queen but a wrecked pawn structure. It looked like Vallejo had enough advantage to win, and retained one even at the end, but he agreed a draw on move 48, which put to an end his two game losing run, rather than risking trying to press further.
Round 7 (February 20, 2010)
Aronian, Levon 1/2 Vallejo Pons, Francisco
Gashimov, Vugar 1/2 Topalov, Veselin
Gelfand, Boris 1/2 Grischuk, Alexander
Round 6. Francisco Vallejo Pons played extremely boldly against Veselin Topalov's English opening. He pushed his kingside pawns for an attack against Topalov's king. Vallejo was rewarded with a good position until, in what must have been dire time trouble, he blundered away a whole rook by leaving it en-prise when still well in the game. Levon Aronian gave up the exchange for a pawn on the black side of a Queen's Gambit Ragozin against Alexander Grischuk to leave all the pawns on one side. They played on for quite a long time but the draw was always the likely result. The first game to finish was a deeply prepared Petroff Defence between Vugar Gashimov and Boris Gelfand. 16.a4 seems new but by that stage a considerable number of pieces had been exchanged and there was very little left in the position, by the time they agreed a draw on move 37 a completely sterile position had been reached.
Round 5. Vugar Gashimov beat Francisco Vallejo Pons on the black side of a Modern Benoni. There has been a gradual resurrection of this opening led by Veselin Topalov and recent games have seen a number of very unconvincing efforts by white in demonstrating a clear advantage. The ball is very much in white's court at the moment. For good tactical players it is looking like a good option for playing for a win with black as the positions are tending to get very messy with mutual chances.. Here the move order cut out some critical lines. Levon Aronian made no real progress against Boris Gelfand's Semi-Slav and they arrived at a drawn bishop of opposite colours ending although some attempt to get running f and b pawns maybe could have been tried. Veselin Topalov played very sharply and possibly not very soundly against Alexander Grischuk. But one should not complain too much. He takes the risks knowingly. For a long time the game looked like it should be a draw but Grischuk went quite badly astray (especially moves 52 and 53) and eventually lost.
Round 5 (February 18, 2010)
Topalov, Veselin 1-0 Grischuk, Alexander
Aronian, Levon 1/2 Gelfand, Boris
Vallejo Pons, Francisco 0-1 Gashimov, Vugar
XXVII SuperGM (6 players 10 Rds DRR Indiv TC:120m:60m:30m) - Games in PGN: PGN
XXVII SuperGM (6 players 10 Rds DRR Indiv TC: 120m:60m:30m) - Games in PGN: PGN
|XXVII SuperGM Linares (ESP), 13-24 ii 2010||cat. XXI (2758)|
|4.||Vallejo Pons, Francisco||g||ESP||2705||½||0||½||½||½||½||*||*||½||½||0||½||4||2696|
|Round 1 (February 13, 2010)|
|Aronian, Levon||- Grischuk, Alexander||½-½||26||E25||Nimzo Indian Saemisch|
|Vallejo Pons, Francisco||- Topalov, Veselin||½-½||41||C95||Ruy Lopez Breyer|
|Gelfand, Boris||- Gashimov, Vugar||½-½||54||A61||Benoni|
|Round 2 (February 14, 2010)|
|Topalov, Veselin||- Gashimov, Vugar||1-0||48||D11||Slav Defence|
|Grischuk, Alexander||- Gelfand, Boris||1-0||35||E55||Nimzo Indian|
|Vallejo Pons, Francisco||- Aronian, Levon||½-½||41||C67||Ruy Lopez Berlin|
|Round 3 (February 15, 2010)|
|Aronian, Levon||- Topalov, Veselin||½-½||51||A64||Benoni|
|Gelfand, Boris||- Vallejo Pons, Francisco||½-½||42||D10||Slav Defence|
|Gashimov, Vugar||- Grischuk, Alexander||½-½||40||B97||Sicilian Najdorf|
|Round 4 (February 16, 2010)|
|Grischuk, Alexander||- Vallejo Pons, Francisco||½-½||34||D17||Slav Defence|
|Gelfand, Boris||- Topalov, Veselin||½-½||40||E05||Catalan|
|Gashimov, Vugar||- Aronian, Levon||½-½||48||C88||Ruy Lopez Closed|
|Round 5 (February 18, 2010)|
|Topalov, Veselin||- Grischuk, Alexander||1-0||69||B90||Sicilian Najdorf Variation|
|Aronian, Levon||- Gelfand, Boris||½-½||46||D48||Queens Gambit Meran|
|Vallejo Pons, Francisco||- Gashimov, Vugar||0-1||35||A61||Benoni|
|Round 6 (February 19, 2010)|
|Topalov, Veselin||- Vallejo Pons, Francisco||1-0||40||A29||English Four Knights|
|Grischuk, Alexander||- Aronian, Levon||½-½||101||D39||QGD Ragozin|
|Gashimov, Vugar||- Gelfand, Boris||½-½||37||C42||Petroff's Defence|
|Round 7 (February 20, 2010)|
|Aronian, Levon||- Vallejo Pons, Francisco||½-½||48||D12||Slav Defence|
|Gelfand, Boris||- Grischuk, Alexander||½-½||60||A29||English Four Knights|
|Gashimov, Vugar||- Topalov, Veselin||½-½||42||C65||Ruy Lopez Berlin|
|Round 8 (February 21, 2010)|
|Topalov, Veselin||- Aronian, Levon||½-½||45||D43||Anti-Meran Gambit|
|Grischuk, Alexander||- Gashimov, Vugar||1-0||40||A62||Benoni|
|Vallejo Pons, Francisco||- Gelfand, Boris||½-½||35||C42||Petroff's Defence|
|Round 9 (February 23, 2010)|
|Grischuk, Alexander||- Topalov, Veselin||1-0||56||E15||Queens Indian|
|Gelfand, Boris||- Aronian, Levon||½-½||40||D15||Slav Defence|
|Gashimov, Vugar||- Vallejo Pons, Francisco||½-½||29||B12||Caro Kann Advanced|
|Round 10 (February 24, 2010)|
|Topalov, Veselin||- Gelfand, Boris||1-0||62||C42||Petroff's Defence|
|Aronian, Levon||- Gashimov, Vugar||1-0||58||A61||Benoni|
|Vallejo Pons, Francisco||- Grischuk, Alexander||½-½||32||B90||Sicilian Najdorf Variation|